[PHOTOS: Courtesy of Jon Cavalier]

One of the most legitimate complaints about LIV Golf during the past three years is the mostly unrecognisable courses the Saudi Arabia-backed league uses in the United States. Beyond The Old White course at the Greenbrier Resort and Trump National Doral – former PGA Tour venues – this year’s schedule in the States includes Las Vegas Country Club, the Golf Club of Houston, The Grove in Nashville, Bollingbrook Golf Club outside Chicago and Maridoe Golf Club near Dallas.

Can anybody but a member name a single hole they’d recognise? Highly unlikely.

Elsewhere in the world, there is one other facility that hosted the PGA Tour – Mayakoba in Mexico. But as soon as those owners took on an LIV event, the American circuit said goodbye and moved the Worldwide Technology to Cabo San Lucas.

Clearly, LIV needs more high-profile tracks, and it may be heading down a promising path with very early chatter about securing Chambers Bay outside Tacoma, in Washington state, which hosted the 2015 US Open championship won by Jordan Spieth.

The Tacoma News Tribune reported on Friday that Pierce County executive counsel Don Anderson confirmed that a marketing agency, Performance 54, that represents LIV Golf asked to have a meeting with Pierce officials, and that they are open to such a talk.

“LIV has its own issues, though, golf politics, world politics-wise. You have to be careful there,” Anderson told the News Tribune. “They throw a great party, though. Fifty-four golfers, 54 holes, shotgun start. You generate $5 million or so in concession and merchandise sales. From that aspect, they’re very attractive. If they follow up with their indirect inquiry, we’ll listen.”

As Anderson noted, the complications could be greater for a municipality to join forces with an organisation backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, though it may become more palatable if the PGA Tour ultimately takes on PIF as a business partner. Those negotiations are ongoing.

Chambers Bay

Pierce County opened Chambers Bay in 2007 and only three years later, as a seemingly new darling of the USGA, it hosted the US Amateur in an era when USGA chief executive Mike Davis made playing championship courses on public courses a priority. Chambers then held the 2015 US Open, which got a dramatic final-round duel between Spieth and Dustin Johnson, but received mixed reviews for the course conditions and fan experience. Since then, the USGA has shown little interest of staging either the US Open or US Women’s Open there.

In a blunt assessment, Anderson said, “With respect to the US Open, I think our best shot is being the attractive cousin who’s a backup date when your prom date can’t go. That’s what happened the first time. The 2015 US Open was awarded to Winged Foot. It came to Chambers after they said they needed to put this off.”

It’s not as if the USGA has completely written off Chambers; it has received three other championships – the 2022 US Women’s Amateur, 2027 US Junior and 2033 US Amateur. But, according to Anderson, that drawn-out schedule doesn’t provide enough exposure to a municipal golf course that is trying to attract golfers from around the world.

“You can’t run a golf course on a tournament every 25 years,” Anderson said. “We’ll stay on having fairly regular USGA tournaments. Anything that gets on TV is great. With any business, you have to adapt to the marketplace. There may be other things involved.”

Among high-profile municipal courses – those don’t count resorts such as Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits – Chambers Bay ranks among the most expensive. The course is run on a dynamic pricing system, and coming up in July, weekend green fees range from $US205 for Pierce County residents to $US345 for non-residents. Those are for walking, because Chambers doesn’t allow electric carts – another challenge in attracting golfers.

By comparison, New York state-run Bethpage Black, host to three majors and the 2024 Ryder Cup, is $US80 for residents to walk on weekends and $US160 for visitors. Torrey Pines South, an annual PGA Tour venue that has hosted two US Opens and is operated by the City of San Diego, charges $US292 for visitors and $US85 for residents on weekends.